Bouma’s Debut Delayed But Priceless

Lance Bouma made his National Hockey League debut on Saturday night, Hockey Night in Canada-style, in a game against the Los Angeles Kings.

But the 20-year-old’s journey started off rocky. Bouma had been in snow-covered Chicago with the Abbotsford Heat when he got the news earlier this week. A few delayed flights later and he was en route back to his home province.

"I found out Wednesday afternoon that I was getting called up," Bouma was saying following Saturday’s morning skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome. "They said they weren’t even going to bother getting me to Atlanta because everything was just too crazy in Chicago.

"Thursday I flew from Chicago to Calgary and our flight got delayed by about an hour and a half because of weather conditions. It was pretty hectic but we made it here.

"Everything was kind of shut down in Chicago so there wasn’t a chance for me to go there (Atlanta)."

In seven shifts on Saturday, the former Vancouver Giants captain logged four minutes and 34 seconds of ice time. Registered one shot.

But the experience was priceless for the Provost, Alta., native’s friends and family.

A rookie with the Abbotsford Heat this season, Bouma has 19 points including 11 goals in 49 games and had a team-leading five power play goals when he was summoned. Most recently, the six-foot-one, 210-pound right winger notched a tally and an assist in a 5-4 shootout win on Jan. 29.

"I talked to coach Sutter and he’d mentioned me and another couple guys have been playing well and if there was a call-up, we’d have a chance to go," said Bouma, who was Calgary’s third round pick (78th overall) in the 2008 NHL entry draft. "I knew somewhat but I didn’t know it was going to happen."

When Flames’ general manager Jay Feaster put Craig Conroy and Ales Kotalik on waivers, the decisions were made to free up roster space to "reward" some of the young players in Abbotsford.

And around the team’s top farm club, that was good news all around.

"Obviously when you start hearing things like that, you realize how close you are to getting there," Bouma said. "When you get the word, it’s an amazing feeling. I’m obviously very excited … it feels good to get rewarded."